DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The last moments Ricci Wheatley and Robin Opperman shared with their father were valuable ones.
“That was really nice to be able to say, ‘I love you,’” said Opperman.
The sisters, though, almost missed the chance to say goodbye after they were kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight, they say, for being too emotional.
The pair boarded a Southwest flight in Burbank, Calif., last Wednesday, hours after learning their father was dying in Dallas.
“I sat down and just started crying,” said Wheatley.
Looking to calm her nerves, Wheatley said, she reached out to a flight attendant.
“I go, ‘I’m a nervous flier. So, when you get the beverage service started, I’d love to have a glass of wine.’ And, she looked at me, probably looked at my eyes,” Wheatley said.
“Because she was crying,” Opperman added.
“I don’t remember what she said exactly – ‘I don’t think so,’ or ‘No,’” said Wheately.
The sisters say it would have ended there, if they hadn’t overheard that same attendant later in the flight.
“‘Oh yeah, we’re all nervous fliers, and we all need a drink,’” Wheatley recalls the attendants saying.
“I just turned around and said, ‘Excuse me, you don’t know anything about me or my situation, so please don’t judge me.’ And that was it,” she said.
That is, until the flight stopped in Oakland, where both sisters were escorted off the plane.
“They didn’t explain anything,” said Opperman.
The airline released a statement saying, “A Southwest Airlines customer and a Southwest Flight Attendant had an onboard disagreement.”
A spokesperson for the airline would not elaborate on what caused the sisters to be removed from the flight, except to say the disagreement “caused the employee to be uneasy with the customers travelling on the flight.”
Southwest rebooked the two on the next available flight, which was the following morning, and made hotel arrangements.
The sisters say they made it to their father’s bedside just in time to let him know they were there.
“Robin said she saw him nod,” said Wheatley.
“Like I saw a small nod. I don’t know,” Opperman added.
The sisters say they aren’t interested in any compensation from the airline.
They say they would like the airline to admit the mistake and to make an effort to keep it from happening again.